Elegantly dressed ladies usher in the holiday season with spirit-filled joy and gift giving
On Saturday, December 3rd, the Sixteenth Annual Gail Bennett’s Christmas Tea and Gift Giving will be hosted at the Ritz-Carlton — an afternoon of camaraderie, fine food, red carpet photos, nonprofit awareness and holiday jubilation.
What you’re likely to witness at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at the dawn of the December Holiday season is a merry gathering of women, exchanging holiday greetings, enjoying laughter and sharing thoughts reflecting the tenor of the times.
Since 2000, Gail Y. Bennett’s annual event brings women together for this afternoon of socializing and relishing the Christmas holiday season. “Women are busily engaged in designing holiday menus, preparing their homes to welcome family and friends, making sure that everyone else is taken care of, catering to expectations of their church bazaars, social club activities and, attending other events of the season,” said Bennett. During the course of the afternoon, conversations often echo the responsibilities of all of these things while stressing the importance of taking time out for oneself.
“Honoring The Legacy of You” is this year’s theme. The themes are not merely by coincidence.
According to Bennett, “the 2008 theme was ‘Legends.’ President Obama and the First Lady, would be moving into the White House.” She created a “Legends” game that produced surprising reactions; all emotional, historical and spirit-filled in nature. During these discussions, attendees recalled a legendary time in history, when First Lady Lou Hoover was compelled to host up to five separate Congressmen’s Wives Teas, because the other wives refused to sit for tea with Ms. Jessie DePriest, the African American wife of a Black congressman. Another rather controversial question focused on Mary, mother of Jesus, and what role unknown characters may have played in her ability to successfully deliver her child. Comparatively, what would her challenges have been in the modern world? Either light hearted or deeply intense, it’s the fellowship of friends old and new that reigns.
Gift giving is a major aspect of the day’s events. The ladies exchange gifts Pollyanna style. Bennett added the “Friends with Benefits” fundraised a few years ago. “The collection of ladies who attend are characteristically comfortable in their beneficence and give regularly to charitable organizations. I implore them to also consider nonprofits that may not be privy to large donors, when planning how they’ll utilize their time, talents and other resources, within the coming year,” Bennett said.
Over the years, women of national, international prominence have joined in the festive celebration. That too, insist Bennett, is by happenstance. They are never singled out. She believes that “every lady is a special gem.”
Skilled at creating platforms to enrich the lives of women, Bennett also plans to reinstate her National Women’s History Month Celebration next year. Held each March, the program is produced in historical and significant buildings.
On Saturday, December 3rd, glamour accompanied by a feeling of well-deserved luxury, will be the tone of the day. “We are excited about coming to the Ritz! We were there years ago, before the group grew slightly larger,” Bennett said. She shuns suggestions to make the event a huge affair. For her, intimacy and bespoke quality is essential. “Because our tea is never just tea. The small group setting works well in that regard. Pockets of conversation and chit-chat go hand-hand with a Ladies Tea,” she explained.
The Ritz-Carlton underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. “I love the dignified hubbub of activity, the stunning color pallette, quaint yet elegant seating clusters that gives one that personal- space feeling and, the various event options to choose from,” said Bennett.
She considers the Ritz a perfect choice for a holiday gathering. For some of the women, the afternoon lingers on as they take in Philadelphia’s enticing holiday offerings and scenery.
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